In this latest LEAN IN Equity & Sustainability instalment, we speak with Sima Al Droubi, Head of Talent Management, Dragon Oil, Dubai, UAE.
Where did you grow up, and what did you want to do when you were a little girl?
We moved from Damascus to Dubai when I was seven years old in the early 1990s. Growing up in Dubai, I was inspired by all the changes occurring in front of my eyes.
As a little girl, I always fantasised about being a pilot. However, due to cultural barriers, my dream was not accepted with open arms. I, therefore, pursued my passion for numbers and studied Finance at the University of Sharjah.
I came from a family that believes in women’s capabilities, who always supported me in all my decisions and took them seriously, which I feel blessed about. Without them or my husband’s support, having four kids and working would have been only a dream.
Can you describe what you do today?
Today I am a mother of four young children who I am very proud of, besides my full-time job as Head of Talent Management which I am very passionate about. Recently I enrolled in a Master’s programme in International Human Resource Management which has broadened my perspectives.
Life is very busy but fulfilling, especially as a woman working in a male-dominated industry. Yet, I am happy to see that today, women are being supported more than ever, not only in this unique discipline due to its hardship but also almost in all industries.
I have worked with many fresh female engineers as part of my career; this was one of the closest chapters to my heart, and glad to see many female engineers being very successful in the Drilling field. Seeing such success was very rewarding.
Why did you choose the Energy sector?
Energy is one of the most vital commodities across the globe. It supports every aspect of daily life.
I have spent my entire career in Energy and never thought of moving to another industry, although I could have moved. However, there is so much uniqueness about it; it’s even more exciting these days with all these initiatives towards cleaner Energy which are associated with the worldwide environmental initiatives to save our planet.
Is the Energy sector challenging for Women?
It is not the easiest sector, especially with the complexity and remoteness, where sometimes field visits are not feasible, nor are there facilities available for women. However, I have always received support from my colleagues and management to develop and reach a senior position.
This support shows that women can work in any industry, but the industry must understand women’s needs and be thoughtful. I remember with my first young baby (three months old), I was at Schlumberger and was invited to attend training at their MLC facility in Abu Dhabi. I told them I had a young baby, and to my surprise, they had a policy for women with young babies. The dorm had a baby cot and extra bed and at that time, I felt over the moon to work for an organisation that is so thoughtful about women!
What would it be if you had one piece of advice for young girls today?
Be courageous in your dreams and go after them. There isn’t one size that fits all. On the contrary, it’s all customisable if there is a will.
What precisely would you say to young women getting into the Energy sector?
· Understand the industry and learn from Women in Energy. Learning from other women’s experiences allows you to take the correct decisions and focus on the way forward.
· Don’t be alarmed by others negative experiences, find the positivity things in the darkest situation and it will all be a memory, so never give up no matter how tough it seems.
And lastly, what would you wish for our planet today if you had a magic wand?
I wish for women to have more opportunities, be heard and have rights. In many countries, women have very little or no rights, which is really sad. If I had a magic wand, I would send all women to get an education to be independent, pursue their dreams and raise a healthy, confident, strong generation.